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The Legacy: Family

By Leslie

The June 2003 Challenge (the 'Meet the Parents' Challenge): offered by Katherine

Part 1: The Cemetery

As the priest finished his last words and walked over to my mother, and me it was the first true realization that my father was gone.

The friends and family that knew my father began to disburse, there wasn’t going to be an after ceremony or was it called a gathering. My etiquette wasn’t up to standard as it were. I planned on meeting the guys at the saloon later.

“Chris?” The woman standing next to me wore a plain blue dress with white trimming along the collar of her dress; she wore matching shoes and handbag. Mom was nothing if not consistent in wearing the best. He wasn’t sure of the label of the outfit but knew it would be the top of the line. He suddenly remembered, blue was dad’s favorite color. Chris smiled at his mom realizing she remembered too.

Brenda Nelson formally Brenda Larabee, was a petite woman, slender with blonde hair (colored on more than one occasion.) and for a woman going on sixty she still held that natural beauty that is often seen in younger women.

“Sorry, Mom, guess I didn’t hear you.”

She smiled at him, “honey I really didn’t say anything. Just wanted to see if you were all right?” She placed her hands on his arm hoping to give him comfort.

Sighing and looking back at the gravesite, “I’m okay,” he said. “You going back to the hotel?” He asked.

“Yes, Richard is tired and as you can see your sister doesn’t feel comfortable being here.”

Chris frown; “sorry, I know she didn’t know Dad really well, but I’m glad she came.” He shrugged hoping his mother understood.

She patted his arm in understanding, both her children may not have been raised together or by the same father, but this was the time when all that was pushed aside and family came first.

“Why don’t you go tell Elizabeth that and I’ll follow Richard to the car.”

“Okay Mom.” Chris Larabee watched as his mother walked over to her husband and spoke to him briefly and then motioned to their daughter to go talk with him.

Chris turned away and looked at the gravesite again. Usually in movies or in television funerals always seem to be gloomy and have a lot of rain in them, as though God himself was also mourning. But, today at his Dad’s funeral the clouds were white as snow and the sky as blue as the sea. It was a beautiful day, especially for November, Dad would have loved it.

Part 2: The Conversation

Chris drove his younger sister back to the hotel, they’d had coffee at a near by café to catch up. He hadn’t seen her in close to ten years. His navy life kept him away from family visits. What time he spent in the states was at his fathers. It’s not because he didn’t like Richard, it was that he really didn’t like the way his mother acted around him. To Chris it was a sort of Jekyll and Hyde transformation, only in reverse. And Chris didn’t like seeing the strong willed woman become the sweet docile wife she projected whenever Richard was around. It just wasn’t the woman he knew and loved.

“Chris, you coming up to the hotel?”

Chris looked over at his sister; she was a younger version of his mom, tall, slender, and blonde with blue eyes and looked nothing like him, which was a good thing. And Buck had often said she was beautiful, just like he like them. One look from him had him saying, ‘but I’d never cross that golden rule.’ Which was you never mess with your best friends sister.

“No, but I’ll see you and Mom later this evening, around eight for dinner.” He answered.

She sighed, “you wouldn’t mine company?” She asked hopefully.

“Now sis,” taking on the stern big brother tone. “I’m going to meet with the guys and have a couple of drinks and talk. Not a place to take your little sister to.” He finished.

She grunted, much the way he himself had done when he wasn’t happy. Which made him smile. His little sister was picking up his bad habits.

“Look your probably tired from the long flight and I appreciate you coming, considering the reason for the visit.” He rapidly spurted out. “So, why don’t you rest and I’ll see you later tonight, okay?”

She sighed again, then smiled and asked, “you inviting the guys, especially Vin?” She quirked her eyebrows at him, while he looked at her sternly narrowing his…

“No, this is a family dinner, the boys are staying at the mansion.” He replied.

“Damn, I was looking forward to seeing Vin, and not to mention Ezra. I mean there accents are just to die for.” She smiled sweetly at him, teasingly.

“Not another word young lady and out of my car.” They were in front of the Hampton Inn, which was located near the DTC in Denver. It was the halfway point between the mansion and the airport.

“Spoil sport,” she replied as she got out of the truck. Leaning on the doorframe she grew serious. “I am sorry for your lost Chris. Mom use to talk about him, you know. The good times as well as the bad.” Elizabeth looked at her older brother and smiled. “I think she still loved him, I mean she loves Daddy and all but there was still affection for your father whenever she spoke about him, you know?”

Chris smiled nodding, “I’ll see you tonight kiddo.”

She nodded and moved away from the truck as Chris drove away.

Part 3: The Saloon

Chris walked in and held onto the batwing doors adjusting his eyes to the dim lighting inside the bar.

JD had found the place, and the moment he saw the name of the establishment and the authentic batwing doors he knew it would be there place. Inviting Buck, who intern let the others know that The Saloon was great. JD had shaken his head, stating that Buck finally met a woman who didn’t fall for his animal magnetism.

The Saloon; had an old west motif that the boys liked and the fact that photos of past celebrities lured them to continue to grace the place. Some of the actors were stares of several old western movies, such as; The Magnificent Seven, Gunfight at the OK Corral, High noon, Shane and many more. JD’s favorites were the photos of Steven McQueen and Yul Brennan.

The Saloon was one of the oldest buildings located almost in downtown Denver situated among many of the newer high rises. The small establishment there had that old mystic feel of the old west the moment you step in, it literally transported you to another era.

The young Manager, Inez walked over to her boy’s table, (that’s how she thought of them.) and smiled at them. “Another round gentlemen?” She asked as Chris sat down.

“Sure thing, this ones on me.” Chris replied. Manager or not, Inez always made sure to take care of her boys personally. So, with tray in hand she cleared the table and went to get refills for them.

“So how you doing pard?” Buck asked.

“I’m okay Buck.” He replied.

They were quiet for a few minutes, and then Inez came back with their drinks. She passed them around and then held the tray in front. “If you need anything, just ask.” She told them.

“Thank you Miss Recillos.” Ezra answered.

With a beer in each of their hands Chris raised his and said, “this is for you Dad, I won’t let you down.”

Buck raised his and added, “we won’t let you down.” Giving the others the opportunity to join in the toast. As they all lifted their beer mugs and agreed.

After downing there glasses Inez came over and filled them up once more. This time they all looked at their individual mugs and began to reflect on how they met Doc Mike.

“You know?” JD quietly spoke or rather stated, “I always wish I got to meet my Dad.” He said looking at the others. “I mean I knew who he was, but you see he was married. Mom said it wouldn’t be right to, you know visit. His wife didn’t know about my Mom and him.”

The others didn’t say anything, only nodded that they understood.

“My Dad left me and Mom when I was just ten.” Buck added. “Mom said it was cause he was too much like a big kid. He just felt too tied down with a wife and kid. So, Mom and me moved to Indiana, and I met Chris and his Ma, she too was divorced. Didn’t meet Chris’ Dad ‘til he was seventeen.” Buck shrugged.

When both long time friends met Chris was two years older, but you wouldn’t know it, as Buck was tall for his age.

“Mind you I did visit my father for two summers. But after the last visit I just didn’t feel comfortable staying with him. He just didn’t know how to treat the ladies. I mean I’m for getting to know them.” He stated seriously, the others made no comments on his fathers or his own life style. “Because you need to treat each lady with respect, that’s real important. I always make sure there might not be a commitment, but that I would never do anything to hurt them… never.” He again stated more vehemently than he realized.

“Importantly I know my father too well.” Josiah took over the conversation hoping to give Buck time to rein in his emotions. “He was a hard man, and I would say not fair in his views. He was right and you were wrong, because there was nothing in between.” The big man finished, taking another drink from his beer.

“When I met Chris’ dad and I found out they were friends, I couldn’t believe it. They were so different, yet they knew each other from their days in college.” He shook his head.

“I really liked your dad Chris. He helped me to have a better relationship with my father.” He didn’t tell them that his sister Hannah had become one of Doc’s patients. They didn’t need to know everything.

“I never knew my father.” Ezra shrugged. “Mother saw no profit in that bit of knowledge.” Those who’d never met Maude raised their eyebrows not understanding, and the southerner didn’t elaborated. “And my step-fathers never really took the time to get to know me. Some never even knew I existed.” ‘He must be drunk to have let that slip,’ Ezra thought. “So, I guess you could say Doc Mike was really the only Father figure I ever experienced.” He raised his eyebrows as he realized the truth of that statement. “I shall miss him.” He ended as he also toasted the man again.

“My Dad also played the role of Mom, for me and my sisters. After my mom died, he became my whole world.” Nathan stated. “My sisters took care of me, mine you. But it was my father who encouraged me to become the man I am today.” He smiled at the others as he remembered, “We may not have had a lot, but my Dad never gave up. When it was time for me to graduate he did all the research for the best scholarship programs. He wanted my dream to become a doctor to be realized. And I’ll tell you that it wasn’t all easy. Not because curriculum was hard, but because I resented my father.” He looked at the others he had to be honest with him self. “Yeah, and I almost left medical school too.” He shook his head at the hurt he had seen on his fathers face.

“But my aunt set me straight and made me realized that by hurting him I was destroying my life.” He chuckled at himself despite the seriousness, “She almost literally pounded some sense into me.”

The group was quiet for a while then they all looked at Vin who kept his eyes downcast. Although blind, he was looking straight at the rim of his beer mug, the color spectrum of the liquid swirled around the glass. Thinking to himself, ‘I ain’t going to do this, no way, no how.’

Chris knew the Texan wasn’t shy so to speak, he just didn’t like talking about himself. So he was surprise when he starting talking.

“I’s a little boy when my momma passed on. Don’t hardly remember all that much about her, except that she told me ‘that I was a Tanner and Tanner’s are a strong people,” He shrugged, “always tried to be the best man I could be…” He said.

“Before Momma died she brought me to meet my grandfather. He wasn’t a tall man but he was strong, taught me all about reading tracks and how to be a man; when I first met him I’s surprise to know that he was an Indian, momma said I had maybe about a fourth of Kiowa in me.” He chuckled as he remembered. This wasn’t so bad, he thought. “My great, great grandma she was Kiowa. My grandpa taught me their ways, there language but I knew I was really not of the people. Most didn’t like me.” He shrugged again, remembering the feel of being an outcast.

“Wow, I didn’t know you were part Indian.” JD exclaimed. He knew that the older man was raised at an Indian reservation, but just assumed with his light brown hair, blue eyes and fair complexion that he was white.

“Yep, like I said about a fourth Kiowa and probably a mix of other tribes, never was told the whole story of my family tree.” He took another sip of his beer.

The seven men finished their beers and sat together in silence, none of them having to say any more, a comfortable silence between friends, which were growing into a family.

Chris looked at his watch and saw it was all ready seven-thirty.

Buck looked at his long-time friend, “you got somewhere to be pard?” He asked.

“Yeah, told Mom I’d pick them up for dinner, I’m taking them to The Broker, it’s near their hotel.”

The ladies man nodded. “You need back up?” He asked smiling; the others frown not understanding.

Chris snorted at his friends attempt at humor, “No, I’m actually back up for Lizzy.”

Buck nodded, no matter what, parents were always hard to coupe with. It didn’t matter how much you loved them they would always be hard to swallow and knew how to push your buttons. After all they’ve known you since you were an itty-bitty baby. As Maude once said, ‘that was a mothers trump card.’

“Why don’t you boys head back to the mansion and I’ll see you tomorrow.” Chris suggested.

“Want me to tuck them in too.” Buck smirked.

“Shut up Buck,” The unofficial leader of the Luna Foundation’s Denver House replied, getting up and placing a few bills on the table. “Night boys,” he said as the others replied in kind as he walked out of the saloon.

“Well boys whose up for another round?” The ladies man asked as the others really didn’t drink that much. Of course, Josiah was another matter as the others saw the look on the older man, like the gauntlet had been thrown down. The others groan knowing it was going to be a long night.

Part 4: The Family Dinner

The host escorted the four members to their table. “Your waiter will be with you in just a moment.” The young man replied placing each their menus.

“Thank you,” replied Brenda.

All four took their menus and proceeded to glance at the list of foods.

“Honey what looks good?” Brenda asked her husband.

“Hmm,” he replied not looking at his wife but at the menu.

Chris looked up a moment then back at his menu.

“What are you having Chris?” Elizabeth asked.

“I think… I’ll have the Colorado Rack of Lamb, with soup and the chocolate mousse for dessert.” Chris answered.

“That sounds good, but I’ll order the Teriyaki Club Steak with the toss green salad and that chocolate mousse sounds good to me too.” She smiled, “have you two decided yet?” She asked her parents.

“Your father still hasn’t decided, but I think I’ll have the Alaskan King Salmon, with the toss salad and that chocolate mousse does sound good.” She too smiled.

Suddenly the waiter appeared, “you folks ready to order?” He asked with pad and pen ready to take down their orders.

“Richard have you decided?”

Looking up at the waiter, who smiled, Richard replied, “another five minutes.”

“Of course, would any of you like to order drinks?”

“I’ll have a glass of your Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay.” Brenda replied.

The waiter looked to Elizabeth, she glance at the menu quickly then replied, “I’ll have your Zinfandel.” She answered.

“Elizabeth,” Brenda looked at her daughter.

“Ah, come on Mom, its just one glass of wine. And I’ll have it with the meal.” With pleading eyes she waited as her mother caved in.

The waiter pretending not to notice the exchange and wrote down the information he then glanced at Chris who replied.

“Let me have your domestic beer.” He grinned as his mother shook her head.

Writing it down he glance finally at the older man.

“Water will be find for me;” He answered not giving yet his order.

The waiter nodded, “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” he replied and walked away.

Richard still remained looking at his menu.

The others placed theirs down and waited.

“So Chris when you’d get back?” His mother asked.

“A few months ago, I also resigned my commission.” He stated.

“Oh, I had no idea.” She replied.

“Why?” Elizabeth asked, surprise her older brother would leave the Navy after so many years.

He sighed and simply stated, “lack of communication.” And left it at that.

Neither woman pressed the issue.

There was a few minutes of awkward silence and then the waiter reappeared.

He passed out the drinks and filled every ones water glasses, placed two baskets of hot bread with their appetizer fresh shrimp in the shell served on a bed of ice with a homemade tangy cocktail sauce, this was included in the meal, also included was baked sweet potato served piping hot with a choice of maple, honey and cinnamon butter, and for their vegetable fresh steamed broccoli. The family was impressed with the bounty they received.

“Are you ready to order?” He asked again.

Richard nodded and the waiter started with the women, everyone gave their orders as they had all ready decided what they wanted. Richard finally decided with the Veal Marsala and the Pinot Noir to drink with his meal, which was the recommendation on their menu. “Very good,” the waiter whose nametag said David, took their orders then their menus as he walked away.

“Chris, now that you’ve return, will you be coming back to Indiana? Your step-father could use some help at his law firm.”

Chris raised his eyebrows in surprise, “I never went to law school Mom.” He replied.

“Yes I know that son, I was thinking about helping with investigations that are done by other agency’s. Richard could put in a recommendation with one of them.”

“No, Mom. Dad wanted me to stay here and continue to work for the Luna Foundation.” Chris answered.

Brenda looked at her son as if he’d grown two heads. “You can’t be serious, I never understood what it was your father was trying to prove, but…”

Chris interrupted her, “Mom, its important work and I have people who need me here.” He stated.

“Oh, please, chasing down ghosts is not what I would call important work.”

“You chase ghosts, like in ghost busters?” Elizabeth looked at her brother, this was the first she’d heard about it.

Chris sighed, not really wanting to go into any details, “not exactly, we investigate strange unexplained events.”

“Wow, that sounds so cool.” Elizabeth replied.

Which only made their mother scowl, “cool indeed, Chris what your father did is nothing but utter nonsense. Of all the things to do… really.” She huffed as she pulled out her table napkin and placed it across her lap.

Chris didn’t reply, just ignored his mother’s comments.

Elizabeth seemed to sense trouble coming and decided to change the conversation. “Hey Chris, did Mom tell you I’m thinking of going to the university here?” She looked at her brother hoping he’d follow with the new topic.

“No,” he finally replied, glad for the change in conversation. “What’s your interest?” He asked.

“I haven’t quite decided. It’s between Animal Husbandry – which, loosely translated means becoming a Forest Ranger, or going the distance and becoming a Veterinarian.”

“Of course, I could also go into zoology be more involved in research rather than practice medicine. But I love the outdoor life. So as you can tell I haven’t quite chosen the exact profession, at least I know what field I want to go into.” She shrugged her shoulders with a grin.

“I had no idea you were interested in animals.”

“Yep, I may not have grown up a farmers daughter, but then I’m not exactly interested in cows and pigs. I’m more interested in our wild furry friends.” She smiled again.

“Yes, and no doubt a dangerous occupation.” Brenda added, not at all happy with her daughter.

“We’ve gone through this before mother.” Elizabeth replied now realizing that maybe changing the topic wasn’t such a good idea.

“Yes, and we’ll go through it again until I’ve talk some sense into you.” Her mother stated.

Elizabeth smiled, looking at her older brother with a face that said, ‘see what I have to put up with…’

‘Yeah,’ Chris seemed to reply.

It seemed no conversation would be safe with which to have before their dinners arrived. So, both children looked to the one who had been quiet the whole time.

Richard seemed to sense the intense looks from his daughter and stepson, looking up he sighed. He took his wife’s hand and said; “why don’t you tell Chris about that new catering business you’ve started.” He said.

Brenda looked over at her husband, “well son, I’ve started a catering company.” She stated upset at her two children for having the conversation changed again.

Chris sense what was going on and asked for more details. “Really? What type of menu do you specialize?” He asked, while thinking if the guys were here they’d be smirking at what he’d been reduced to talk about.

“Mostly, southern meals, but American in general. I’m also thinking about expanding, adding: Spanish, Chinese and Japanese among others.”

“Sounds like you’ve been doing it for sometime?” Chris wondered.

“Three years, it’s not a big business just yet, but we keep busy.”

“That’s great Mom,” and he really meant it. Glad to see the old Mom he remembered. “Who else is in business with you?”

“A few friends from the country club Richard and I belong too.”

Chris was about to ask another question when the waiter arrived with their dinners. The rest of the evening, conversation was very light, basic and general, which the two siblings were grateful.

Part 5: The Hampton Inn

After dinner, Chris drove the family back to the hotel and decided to walk them in.

“Richard, why don’t you take Elizabeth upstairs, while I talk to Chris?” It was more of a request then a question, but Brenda received a nod from her husband.

“Don’t be long.” For which she nodded in answer.

Both Mother and son walked over to the spacious lobby and sat down. The hotel wasn’t the most expensive or elaborate, but it was nice and quiet. Most of the residents were business people who traveled in for meetings or conventions.

“What’s on you mind Mom?” Chris didn’t like to beat around the bush. He knew his mother wasn’t satisfied with his decision.

“Son, I don’t want to start by sounding as if I wish to run your life… but this decision of yours. It’s not good.” She stated.

“Its what I want to do Mom.” Chris answered, hoping they wouldn’t argue.

“I never understood your fathers decision to join the foundation.”

“Mom, stop. Dad had his reasons. Mind is that there are people who need help. Help that can’t come from conventional means. I work with people who have special gifts, if you will, that can help.”

“Yes, I know all about the people your father worked with.” She laughed, not a pleasant sound when she was being sarcastic. “Your sister is determined to follow her choices as well. When she moves out here, should the university accept her. Promise me you won’t get her involved in this lunacy of yours.”

Chris looked at her and sighed, “it was never my intention to that.” He answered. “But if she asks, I won’t lie to her either.”

“Fair enough,” although she wasn’t happy about that either. “Walk me back to my room?”

“Okay Mom,” the ride up was quiet, Brenda held her sons arm as she thought about what had happen through out the day.

Chris walked her to the front door of their room.

Brenda reached up to her son and kissed his cheek. “Goodnight son.”

“Goodnight Mom… you want me to drive you back to the airport?” He asked.

She shook her head, “we all ready made arrangements. I’ll call you though when we arrive home.” Brenda answered, “It was… it was good to see you son.” She said, placing her delicate hands on Chris’ face.

Chris leaned over and returned the previous kiss. “It was good seeing you too, and try not to worry about Elizabeth, if she’s anything like you she’ll be just fine.” He grinned at her.

She smiled back at her son, then slid the electronic key card into the slot and went into the room.

Chris stood for a few moments looking at the closed door. He sighed and headed back to the elevator.

Part 6: The Drive Home

The drive back to the mansion would take at least half an hour, especially with no traffic in sight. The time would hopefully settle him down before arriving.

‘Dad, wish you were here, explain to Mom, why our work is important.’ Chris thought.

The leader of the Denver House thought about the last few weeks, their investigation into the mysterious deaths of all those women, the whole reincarnation theory, which they proved and only God knew what other strange things they would uncover. Chris hope with the help and courage of his teammates that they would be ready to face whatever challenges crossed their paths.

“So, Dad where ever you are thank you for my new family.” He whispered.

The End